The San Diego Padres had, by and large, a successful 2022 season, reaching the NLCS only to come up short against the Philadelphia Phillies. Thus, the Padres are now justifiably looking to build off their deep playoff run, searching for pieces in free agency to bolster their core led by Manny Machado, Juan Soto, and Yu Darvish, along with Fernando Tatis Jr. coming back.
One such target for the Padres is Japanese starting pitcher Kodai Senga, who tore up the Nippon Professional Baseball league in 2022. Senga pitched 144 innings across 22 starts, and he tallied an incredible 1.94 ERA on a healthy K:BB ratio of 156:49.
While the 29-year old pitcher is sure to attract plenty of suitors, the Padres may have a leg up on the opposition given the presence of Yu Darvish. Jon Heyman of the New York Post said that Senga looks at Darvish as his mentor, which could perhaps swing the tide in the Padres’ favor in terms of a potential free agency pursuit.
The Padres appear to have plenty of competition for Kodai Senga’s services, so any sort of advantage is a boon. According to earlier reports, the Los Angeles Dodgers, Los Angeles Angels, New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox are some of the teams interested in vying for Senga’s signature.
It’s not quite clear which role Senga would play once he makes the trip overseas. Some scouts wonder whether the 29-year-old might be better suited for a role coming out of the bullpen, what with his 95-98 mph heater and his nasty splitter, which has earned the nickname “Ghost Fork.”
Nonetheless, Kodai Senga should provide a huge boost to whichever team he signs with, especially with his considerable experience honing his craft as one of the best pitchers outside the United States. The Padres are clearly hoping they’re the lucky winners in these sweepstakes.